Archive for Panionios

AEK Returns to Champions League

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Soccer with tags , , , , , , , on May 31, 2017 by alexaek

After a ten year absence, AEK has the chance to book a place in the group stages of the Champions League next season. Of course it wont be easy as there is the potential of some big clubs standing in our way, but even just the chance to see us play in some Champions League qualifiers is an exciting prospect.

So, how did we end up here? Well it ultimately comes as a result of our win against Panionios today in Nea Smirni. The game got off to a rocky start with Panionios scoring first but it was clear AEK weren’t going to standby and gift a win to Panionios with the chances they were creating. Panionios didn’t end up holding on to their lead for long though as 13 minutes after they opened the scoring, AEK responded with a goal of their own courtesy of Mantalos.

The game got a little more interesting in the second half when Panionios had a man sent off which was followed by Lazaros getting a straight red. With ten players on each side, it was anyone’s game but it was Araujo who, in what was most likely his last game for AEK, scored the winner with a nicely taken header.

The win was a critical one since PAOK were right on our tails in the standings but Panathinaikos’ win in Toumba took off some of the pressure. With the playoffs having drawn to a close, we finished with 12 points from the six games; not perfect, but it was enough for the team to accomplish what it set out to.

Aside from clinching a place in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, the game was also notable for quite likely being Araujo’s last with the team. I say “likely” because while I doubt we’ll see him back with the club next season, I’m still somewhat hopeful something can be worked out. Its clear he has enjoyed his time with the club (this was made even more evident today after he mentioned his love for the club and his desire to return as soon as possible) and he clearly has the potential to play a massive role in the team. His price tag is high but even if we cant outright buy him, maybe he’ll put some pressure on Las Palmas to extend his stay in Athens where he’ll have much more of an opportunity to develop as a player.

The game could also have been Jimenez’s final match in charge of the club. I certainly hope this isn’t the case as hes turned the club around significantly, but he hasn’t committed to the team yet and there have yet to be any negotiations between Jimenez and management. It would be a huge shame to see him leave after this season: hes established himself once again at AEK, he has gained the trust of the players, and he has brought some much needed stability to the club. I’m not sure what his demands will be in order for him to stick around next season, but I’m cautiously optimistic that they can be reached.

Highlights of the match:

Supporters chanting Araujo’s name after the match:

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PAO 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Derby with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by alexaek

After beating our Athenian rivals with a score of 1-0 over the weekend, they returned the favour with a 1-0 win of their own courtesy of a Leto penalty. I was following along to the commentary and while we had a few chances of our own, it seemed like a very lackluster performance overall from AEK.

Chygrinskiy and Vranjes (who ultimately left the game after receiving two yellow cards) were solid for us at the back and Galanopoulos had a good game in the midfield but aside from those three, there seemed to be little ambition or creativity from any of our players. I have to say though that I’m not entirely surprised. We played alright in the game against PAOK and we managed to get a win last game but overall these playoffs feel forced from all the teams involved, rather than being something they want to be involved with. Just looking at the scores of the eight games played so far suggests that too, with not a single game seeing more than one goal scored per team.

Today’s result luckily doesn’t leave us in an awful position just yet. It isn’t perfect, but we’re still second with a two point gap to PAOK. Having said that, we still play PAOK at home and have made it past the two away derbies so on paper we should be able to get the six points from the next two games which would clinch first place for us in the playoffs. It won’t be easy though seeing as we lost to Panionios at home already and we only barely got the win over PAOK in Thessaloniki. But, its definitely realistic to expect us to win our last two games if the team plays the football we saw them play earlier in 2017. Ultimately it depends on which team decides to show up: if its the AEK squad from today or from the Cup final, then we’ll be lucky to come away with three points from the next two games. If, however, we see the AEK that we saw just after Jimenez took over, the AEK team that was scoring goals on a constant basis and barely conceding, then we can fully expect to find ourselves in a Champions League qualifying spot by the end of May.

AEK 1-0 Panathinaikos

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2017 by alexaek

We managed to come away with the three points at the last minute yesterday against PAO, courtesy of a late goal from Lazaros against his former club. The win follows our disappointing home 0-1 home loss to Panionios, a performance which saw us create very few noteworthy chances.

Luckily we got the better result yesterday against PAO, a result which puts us in first place in the playoffs courtesy of PAOK’s 1-0 win against Panionios. It wasn’t a great performance by any means, especially considering we were playing against a depleted PAO squad, but it definitely puts us in a good spot going into the fourth round.

Thankfully we managed to create some chances this game with Mantalos coming close on a header. Arguably the biggest chance though came when Almeida was faced with a rather routine tap into a practically empty net. Unfortunately though he came up short and ended up sending the ball over the cross bar, missing a chance that no professional forward should ever realistically miss.

The game seemed to be heading to a 0-0 draw before Lazaros took a shot from distance that managed to sneak its way into the net. It was the kind of goal that we’ve come to expect from him, a shot from distance with enough power that it manages one way or another to find its way into the net, and I must say that its nice to see him go for it. I’ve always felt that it doesn’t hurt to take shots if you know you have a good foot: maybe it goes in, maybe it goes out for a corner, or maybe you get a helpful rebound, either way a lot of good can come of it.

It wasn’t all good news this weekend though as AEK’s basketball team faced PAO for game four of the Basket league playoffs. After winning a historic match against PAO two games earlier, we ended up falling short last week in game three. All was not lost though as game four was to be played in front of our supporters again and I felt like we had a chance to even the series for a second time. It was not meant to be however as not only did we lose, but we lost in a huge way with a final score of 67-105 showing just how big the difference was between the two sides. Our defense was awful and practically non-existent at times and our offense looked extremely uninspired. It was too bad considering the team gave us so much hope with that win last weekend.

Its the end of the season again for us, but I think this past season really does set us up well for the next one. We had a great run in Europe and we looked good a lot of the times against PAO and Olympiakos. We clearly aren’t where we want to be yet to challenge for a European final or the Championship, but the foundations are there. Unfortunately though, a lot of work still needs to be done and money still needs to be spent. Its promising though and if management is keen on building upon what they have, as they seem to be, we have reason to optimistic about what lies ahead.

A Return to Better Days

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Basketball, Greek Cup, Greek Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by alexaek

If you’re reading this, you probably noticed that I never wrote anything about our 2-1 loss to PAOK in the Cup final. Really it came down to not wanting to write anything since that game was a disaster from before kickoff. It started with the terrible organization, with the game almost being cancelled since the seats didn’t have numbers on them. Then came the fighting between “supporters” within the stadium as well as outside of it. Of course we had the game itself, which was a disappointment on every level thanks to our awful performance and the offside game winner for PAOK.

Overall, not the kind of final I was hoping for. Certainly not the kind of final that will be remembered fondly throughout Greece by fans of the sport aside aside from the PAOK fans.

Thankfully, we were able to somewhat put all that behind us with not one great result, but two. It started with our basketball team managing, after nine years, to finally beat PAO. Even better, the win tied up our semi-final series with them at one game apiece. It was a tight game until the end, as many of our derbies have been this season, but a huge win regardless which gives us enormous momentum heading into the third game. The win only ties the series and we still have plenty of work to do, but to finally get past this hurtle and win a game against our cross town rivals shows that its definitely possible. Will it be enough to get us to the finals? Well I hate to say that PAO are still favourites but at this point nothing is guaranteed anymore.

The day only got better from that point on as we headed north to take on PAOK for the first round of the playoffs. We clearly came out seeking to make a statement after the loss to PAOK in the cup and for the majority of the first half we were easily the stronger team. As the commentator on the radio put it at one point, AEK seemed like the home team as we outplayed PAOK throughout the pitch. The breakthrough came early on as Didac, who had a great game along with most of our defense, latched on to a perfect ball from Mantalos and neatly tucked in the finish. His goal would prove to the deciding factor as neither side would find a way to score from then on, but there were certainly chances.

The game was a great way to put everything from the cup behind us as not only does it get us a huge three points away in Toumba, but it puts us first in the playoff table after Panionios and PAO tied earlier in the day (though Panionios were unfortunate not to come away with the win). Its still early but to already find ourselves in first after starting with fewer points than PAOK and PAO is the best outcome we could have hoped for after the first round of playoffs. Our next match is at home against Panionios, a game I feel like we should comfortably take, while PAO host PAOK in Athens. I could personally see that game going either way as PAO will be seeking to get some revenge of their own after being knocked out of the cup while PAOK will be looking to recover lost ground after losing, not to mention they’ll also be out to prove that they were legitimately the better team against PAO in the cup semi-finals.

 

Poor Start for Morais

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Atromitos, Basketball, Derby, Greek Super League with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2016 by alexaek

AEK 0-0 Panionios

I guess all things considered, things could have gotten off to an even worse start for Morais… after all, we could have lost. But really, even though it was only his first game in charge the team really should have been able to find a way to score against Panionios.

How It All Unfolded

There were a few uncertain variables going into this game: how we would do without Galo and Patito, how Morais would line up the team, etc… Even so, I wasn’t terribly worried. We’ve been decent at home this season and the Larissa game not too long ago gave me hope that maybe the team has started to find ways of winning regardless of how they play. I hate to say it but really, if we want to have any hope of staying in the title race, results have to come first and then we can focus on playing attractive football.

Well, today, none of that seemed to be the case for the team. Sometimes after a result like today’s, I can at least say that the team played well and deserved more but that just wasn’t the case. The football I saw from the team was rather painful to watch at some points. To be fair to the defense, they did a decent job. Panionios didn’t venture up the pitch too often since they struggled to gain any meaningful possession but when they did, they rarely looked like they would threaten us.

Offensively however, we were lacking in every way. It took a good amount of time before we created any sort of a chance and when we did manage to get some chances, they were few and far between. Mantalos was maybe the only player actually contributing to our attack while Didac was also trying to provide some options down the wing. Aravidis, Platellas, Bakasetas and (I hate to say it) Almeida provided very little  to our attack though Almeida can only be blamed so much since he was hardly getting any balls into the box that he could work with.

So What Needs To Change?

Well, I’m hoping our play will smoothen out a bit as the team spends more time with Morais. They’ve only had four or five days to work with him and I imagine his system is quite different from what they were used to with Ketsbaia so I’m sure time will help a bit. To be honest though, there is only so much he can do. In fact, I have to give him some credit for fielding a decent lineup with the players he had available and though it didn’t exactly pay off, that was hardly his fault.

Who has to be blamed here is our players. There was no creativity going forward at all. Every ball that caused any danger to Panionios was a high ball in and while they could sometimes cause a scare, more than often they would end up comfortably in the keeper’s hands. The team could not come up with anything different, they could not string together any meaningful passes and they sorely lacked composure in front of the net.

From what I see, it seems as though the team needs to take a step back and approach the way they play with a clearer state of mind. Maybe they’re over thinking things, maybe they don’t trust themselves, but they should be able to be more precise offensively than they were today. Patito’s absence today was really felt, but surely we should be able to create something worthwhile without him on the pitch?

I know its still early and I know we didn’t lose the game so maybe it seems like I’m making a bigger deal of today’s result than I should be. But we absolutely need to be winning games like this, and the one against Iraklis where we also drew 0-0 at home. Especially when you take a look at our schedule for the next three games, you start to realize just how much the dropped points here will hurt us: we play PAOK away, followed by Atromitos at home, and Panathinaikos away. To be completely honest, aside from the Atromitos game I don’t see us picking up many points, if any at all, at the two away derbies. Before the season started I felt differently about these games but seeing how we’ve been playing lately, I’ll be very surprised if manage to even sneak a draw at those games.

At Least We Fared Better in Basketball

Earlier in the day our basketball club played an away game (which again felt like a home game due the wonderful presence of our supporters) against Kymis, a game which we never looked like losing from the first minute. It was a great game both defensively and offensively, and what excites me most of all is the fact that we finally seem to have a team that can score some three pointers. Too many times last season we would throw a game away by missing so many three pointers, but it seems like that might not be the case the season.

The win puts us at three for three in the league. For highlights of both the basketball and football game, check out Novasport’s page here: http://aek365.novasports.grl

Panionios 1-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, AEK Players, Greek Soccer, Manager, Playoffs, Pre-season, Signing, Singings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2016 by alexaek

A disappointing end to what has been a very disappointing bunch of playoff games for AEK. I knew going into it all that we’d be pretty tired and worn out, but I was hoping for better than 4th place but what can you do? Honestly I can’t complain, I’d rather see us win the Cup and finish 4th rather than finish 2nd but not win the Cup.

I didn’t get to watch the match but it didn’t sound like I missed all that much anyways. We did have a few chances, notably yet another post by Aravidis, but the commentary I was following gave me the impression that it was Panionios who were having more success going forward.

Despite the unfortunate result, it was nice to see Zuculini in the starting XI. I know he had mentioned a few times that he wanted to play for the team again and it was great to see him get a chance. Not sure if theres any chance he’ll be with us next season but I think its worth considering our options if we can keep him. We didn’t get to see all that much from him so I would like to see what he could after a whole pre-season with the team.

Aside from Zuculini, we also brought some other players with us who have yet to feature all that much for us this season including Vouras, Svarnas, Vasilantonopoulos, Vlahomitros, Galanopoulos, and Kyriazis. To be honest I don’t remember seeing all that much at all of any of these players aside from Svarnas and Vasilantonopoulos, but it was nice to see them included. Only Galanopoulos, Vasilantonopoulos and Vlahomitros ended up playing as subs and I’m not really sure how well they played or what contributions they made to the team.

 

Today’s match was the last time we’d see Nikos Pantazis on the bench with the team. Niko, who has been part of AEK’s physiotherapy team since 1972, has been arguably the most loyal member of the team through all these years. He grew up as an AEK fan and never once left the team. When I was back in Greece he was one of those people I always just associated with AEK. Players left, coaches left as often as management did, but Niko was always there. I just wanted to take a moment to thank him for his dedication to the club, even through all that the team has been through. It will be weird seeing shots of the team bench on TV without him on it.

Nikos celebrating the club (photo courtesy of http://www.gazzetta.gr)

 

Shortly after our game today, various news outlets started posting articles in which they said we were very close to singing a new manager. The manager they all mention is Philippe Montanier, most recently the manager of Rennes. He has also managed Real Sociedad and was assistant manager to the Ivory Coast. He’s not too old, but not too young that he lacks experience, and he seems like a fairly serious manager. I don’t all that much about him and while there were other managers out there I would have liked to see with the team, I’d be pretty satisfied if we ended up singing Montanier. Regardless of who do end up singing, I would just like to see it finalized as soon as possible so we can start building our squad right away.

Panathinaikos 3-0 AEK

Posted in AEK, AEK Athens FC, Derby, football, Greek Football, Greek Super League, Panathinaikos, PAOK, Playoffs with tags , , , , on May 23, 2016 by alexaek

Three games in six days, I’m really not sure whose bright idea that was. Regardless, the effects were apparent today and there was little the team could do to hold off PAO. I’m not trying to make excuses for the team, but who can expect better when they play a Cup final, followed by a game against Panionios three days later and then an away derby three days after that.

We were poor today in every way possible. We couldn’t string together more than two passes without giving the ball away far too easily, we were beaten to every lose ball by a PAO player, and our defense simply couldn’t handle the pace and strength of their opponents. I’m sure the team tried, but they couldn’t get anything going. It was only once Leto was subbed off that PAO’s attack became less efficient and we finally had a couple chances to move forward.

Of course it doesn’t help that Manolas still hasn’t returned as manager, and both Vargas and Simoes but either way, this was one game that we’ll want to put behind us as soon as possible. The sooner we can put the game behind us the better since just three days from now, on Friday the 26th, we play PAO again but this time at OAKA. Thats right, that’s another game within three days, followed by the game against PAOK three days after that, and the game against Panionios two days later.

The more I look at this schedule, the less I can understand it. Once all is over and done with, AEK would have played six games in less than two weeks. And why? Because EPO and the Superleague are two of the most incompetent organizations ever to have been involved in the sport of football. This could have all been avoided had EPO just stuck with the referees that they had agreed to use for the Cup final but instead, Gritzikis and his entourage decided to act like a bunch of children so that he could have things his way.

We’ve all known this for years, but this year’s playoffs have once again proven how much of a joke this whole system is. The fact that the Superleague continues to apply it and somehow believes it is good for the sport is beyond me.

Anyways, thats enough for my little rant (for now). You can see the highlights below but there isn’t much to take from it all. All I can hope for is that we can turn things around for the next three games since we still have a shot of getting 2nd. Having two home derbies in a row is the best shot we’ll have of getting maximum points. All I can hope for is that we get a decent crowd at OAKA for these games.

http://aek365.novasports.gr